I’ve been a very lucky man throughout most of my adult life, from a travel perspective. As a child I travelled very little; in fact my first foreign trip was at the age of 25, but this first trip took in 7 European countries in 14 days. I was the Materials Manager for a boat building company at the time, and the company manufactured fibre glass pleasure boats for the leisure sector and sold large numbers across Western Europe. The Chief Executive made an annual pilgrimage across Europe, by car, to visit all of the company’s main distributors. At our weekly management meeting he asked if anyone had never ventured abroad, and I sheepishly put my hand up. A week later, at the end of June, I found myself on a newly launched car ferry leaving the UK, heading for Esbjerg in Denmark. At the time it was an incredible experience from start to finish. The boat was brand new and the North Sea was uncharacteristically calm, which I later discovered is rarely the case. In fact, looking back, the 24 hour crossing was more like being on a cruise than on a car ferry (the North Sea has never been anywhere near as kind to me since that trip). The sun also shone for the whole journey as we ferried and drove (in an MGB-GT) from Denmark to Sweden, on up to Norway and back across to Sweden; we then continued down to Denmark and through mainland Europe (Germany, Belgium, Holland and France). It was a glorious start to 25 years of extensive business and pleasure travel for me, primarily to Europe, the Far East and the USA.
My business trips gave me the chance to sample potential holiday locations for my family, and resulted in us going to some different places to those that we might not otherwise have tried. At the time, the majority of Brits holidayed in Spain or the Greek islands but we went to places like Norway, Sweden and Italy in the late 80’s and early 90’s. My business trips also took me to some wonderful spots including the Great Wall of China, Niagara Falls (in a blizzard), Venice (at midnight in early December), Miami (The Three Tenors concert) and on the Bullet train in Japan. My frequent USA business trips also prompted numerous holidays there, taking us to Yosemite, Vegas, Florida, San Francisco and down Route 1 to LA, through the Mohave Desert and Death Valley and along Route 66 to the Grand Canyon, and much more.
But right now I feel that none of those journeys compares to the daily forest walks with my dog, or fish and chips on the beach on the East coast of the UK in late spring to early autumn or pushing my grandson around the garden in a wheelbarrow; past events do still bring back wonderful memories for me, but now is still better. Apologies for my self-indulgence, but I have just had 3very challenging PD days and I could detect elements of self-pity creeping in - the glass was starting to feel half empty!! So I am picking myself up and dusting myself down, by looking back at magic travel moments and more importantly what really matters now!
So often we are told not to look back but instead to look forward, but for those with PD that is not necessarily the best advice by any means. By looking back indulgently and selectively at magic moments in our past, and objectively assessing what is also good now, life with PD can feel a whole lot more tolerable.
It was Mother’s Day here in the UK last weekend and our house was full of my wife’s children and grandchildren. There was a lot of laughter and then there was me being a menace with my new toy (SLR digital camera) again. All 10 of us walked the dog together in the forest in the sun, late afternoon, and it was delightful. PD is an annoying side show but the real main events in my life roll on.
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in February 2004 at the age of 51 having experienced undiagnosed symptoms for at least 4 years prior to that. My wife and I have five adult children and three grandchildren. We are fortunate in that we live in a lovely rural part of the east of England, with King’s Forest situated nearby for my much needed, therapeutic dog walks. I spent most of my working life involved in electronic, mechanical manufacturing management within the Worldwide Broadcasting industry and I am extremely lucky to have travelled extensively through my work. Since I was diagnosed I have dedicated much of my time to researching all aspects of PD and trying to both support others with this illness and raise the profile of PD. As well as writing a blog on this website, I administer an internet patient forum for people with PD which I set up in September 2008 and it currently has over 150 members. I also administer the forum’s Facebook, Friends Reunited and Twitter pages. My younger son recently ran in a half marathon race to raise funds for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust. I am currently studying for a BA (Hons) in English and History as a mature student.